$13.9 Million. That’s how much Mecum sold two weeks ago in their giant motorcycle auction in Las Vegas. Their marketing materials said that they’d be selling 1,750 bikes…
…but the final press release notes that 1,324 bikes went up on the block. 1,207 of those sold, which equates to a 90.6% sell-through rate. Since 2014 the auction has more than doubled in terms of bikes offered and money exchanging hands. Let’s see what happened in the 2018 edition!
The Top 10
Just like last year, the top spots were claimed by classic Americans. Unlike last year, the top spot sold for $154k. The top dog in 2017 was a Henderson Four that sold for just shy of half a million! I should note that the big news of the motorcycle auctions this year was actually over at Bonhams, where a world record was set with the $929,000 sale of a 1951 Vincent Black Lightning.1911 Harley-Davidson Twin at $154,000
1917 Henderson Four Steve McQueen at $110,000
1968 Vincent Shadow Recreation at $107,250. This was my favorite of the Top 10. It’s also the only non vintage American bike. There might be a correlation there…
1941 Indian Four at $101,750
1945 Harley-Davidson EL at $99,000
1928 Indian Four at $99,000
1917 Harley-Davidson J at $95,700
1914 Henderson at $93,500
1911 Flying Merkel V-Twin at $91,300
1912 Indian Twin at $82,500
If you’re a data nut, you can click here for a list of every bike, what the final bid amount was, and if it sold. You can also export that to Excel for further analysis…
My decision to go this year was fairly last minute – I had already taken too much time of off work this month for a trip to Cuba (more on that later, I promise) and the Honda Gold Wing launch. With that said, I knew that there would be a whole bunch of Bike-urious readers there so I felt like I had to at least make it out for a couple of days! This year I had the good sense to stay at South Point, where the auction is hosted.
First and foremost, this is a motorcycle auction. But the sheer amount of bikes that are brought in means it coincidentally turns into one of the best motorcycle shows in the country. This timelapse only shows about half of the bikes!
I spent the next few days exploring the bikes and meeting people. Here are some of my favorite moments:
While I love bikes, my favorite part of the auction is meeting many Bike-urious readers that come in from all across the country to buy, sell, or just hang out.
JB has bought some cool Bike-uriousities in the past, like this CB72 endurance racer owned by Pops Yoshimura.
Tim Graber of Classic Motorcycle Consignments giving some advice to one of his clients on the phone about a Harley that was up on stage.
Special mention has to go to Glenn S, who has excellent taste in motorcycles and t-shirts:
If I shared a photo of each bike I loved, this post would take you 3 years to get through. So here’s just a small sampling of what caught my interest:
One of the first bikes you could see as you walked in was this Vincent Rapide Series B hillclimber. Bidding stalled at $45,000, which wasn’t enough to get a new owner.
What’s that, you say? You want to watch how the bidding went? As I poorly captured at the end, it was sold to an internet bidder (signified by Rachel holding up her hand in the back while on a laptop):
I wasn’t too excited by this Husky 360 Automatic as a motorcycle, yet I loved the simple “the automatic” decal on the sidecover. It was signed by Gunnar Lindstrom and sold for $6,050.
One of the odder bikes was this Honda CB750 “dustbin bagger” built by Airtech. Whether or not you like the style, you should be able to appreciate the quality of work. Check out the original listing here and you can see more photos. It sold for $6,600.
Jeff Ward’s Kawasaki SR250 (with which he won the 1985 Supercross and Motocross National Championships) sold for $52,800.
This is 1 of 33 factory flat trackers built by Rokon. It features a Sachs 340cc two-stroke motor with an automatic torque converter. It sold for $13,200.
I actually featured this Motocompo in July last year when it was on eBay. It was basically new and came with some fantastic extras that I adored. At that time, bidding only got up around to $7k. At Mecum, it sold for $11,000! Well done by the seller.
Mark Peterson of Southwest Superbikes checks over his utterly badass “KZ900” racebike before it goes up on stage. It features a 1,200cc Moriwaki engine and has a cool history of being raced by Jon Woo and being restoed by Mule Motorcycles. Bbidding died out at $12,000, which I was incredibly surprised by.
This adorable sidecar is bolted to a Honda CB77 Super Hawk. The whole package went for $7,150.
This Excelsior-JAP speedway racer sold for $33,000. I stared at the tank for 5 minutes.
Another cool JAP-powered speedway bike was this Victor Martin, which sold for $27,500. Victor Martin was an engineer at JAP who started building his own machines. Mecum suggests that this is probably the only one in the US.
Thanks to a bodykit from Airtech, this Ducati looks like a baby Green Frame 750SS. It sold for $12,100.
There’s no relation here. Fratelli Ferrari was the result of two other brothers named Ferrari – Enzo sued them to make them change the name (Fratelli means brother in Italian). They were based in Milan and built a variety of 2 and 4 stroke machines between 125 and 250cc. This 165cc thumper was restored about 20 years ago and it sold for $27,500.
The very shiny motor from another Italian – a 1961 Maserati 125 that was recently restored. It sold for $27,500. With that said, there was an even more visually interesting Maserati at the auction but I somehow only got video of it. Check out the front fairing of this racer!
The twin-engine BSA sold for $23,100 – I was hoping there’d be some history provided on the bike but I couldn’t find any to see if it had competed and how successful it was.
A pleasant surprise was this “Electracycle” by Floyd Clymer, who was running Indian at the time. It’s tough to find additional information on this scoot, and it may have simply been a prototype. Bidding got up to $3,000, it did not meet reserve.
Speaking of little bikes, I fell in love with this Honda Beat. I missed it online when I was scouring the Mecum website, but in person I just thought it was so cool. Produced for just one year, these little 2-strokers were not officially sold in the US. I love how quirky the styling is, and this pristine example has just 15 miles on it.
Above 5,500 rpm, V-TACS yielded more power and turned on a small set of lights on the tach. Adorable.⠀It sold for $5,500!⠀
This 1976 MV Agusta Ipotesi was offered at no reserve – it sold for $5,500.
As mentioned above, my favorite of the top 10 sales was this Vincent Black Shadow recreation with a Egli frame built by Patrick Godet. Components include a 1,330cc motor, replica Fontana magnesium brakes, Ceriani forks, BSA Gold Star muffler, and a fairing styled like the unit from a Laverda SFC 750. It won First in Class and Best of Show at the 2015 Le May Museum Vintage Motorcycle Festival.
The engine was recently rebuilt but the original cosmetic condition remains. It sold for $60,500.
They aren’t all winners, though. This is “motorcycle art” by Rodrigo Duran. I looked up a couple of his metal sculptures that I enjoyed, but this doesn’t work for me on any level. It’s a Honda PA50 moped that’s been ruined. Bidding got up to $2,000, which wasn’t enough to meet reserve.
Back to the good stuff…one of the coolest bikes wasn’t even a bike, it was a sculpture! This obviously commemorates Rollie Free’s iconic land speed run on a Vincent Black Lightning. It’s made out of bronze by Jeff Decker – you may be familiar with his 5,000 pound bronze welded sculpture called By the Horns which is in front of the Harley-Davidson museum.
Though my favorite bike was the Mystery Ship, the most interesting lot by far at Mecum was ownership of the Excelsior-Henderson brand. Once bidding got serious it seemed to be between phone bidders, and it stalled at $1.9M. The auctioneer disclosed that the reserve was $3 million and he casually joked, “does anyone want to raise their bid by one million dollars?”
As usual, Paul d’Orleans worked his magic on the mike. Unfortunately, those of us in attendance were unable to hear what he had to say – that was reserved for the TV programming. What I didn’t realize at first is that the commentary was only done on Friday. Many of my favorite bikes were sold on the last day (Saturday), but those won’t be shown on TV.
On Friday night, I met a few friends for dinner at Culinary Dropout in the Hard Rock Hotel. Turns out the Hard Rock was hosting the AVN Adult Entertainment Expo. This is pretty much the extent of the visuals I can share:
I didn’t share my trip in because it was cold, uncomfortable, and dark. Not wanting to have the same issues going home, I stayed in Vegas Saturday night so I could have all Sunday to ride back and enjoy some sights.
My trip back had two highlights – the first was a quick detour onto a dry lake. I don’t know why, but every time I have a Scout I seem to find myself on former lake beds.
The other highlight was a visit to a buddy of mine who has Hangar 24 out at Redlands Airport. Those of you that are beer enthusiasts may recognize the name because the owner’s friend created a brewery and named it after this hangar.
Like I say every year, I highly recommend that you come check out the Mecum auction next year. Whether or not you have an interest in buying or selling, you’ll be surrounded by classic motorcycles and people who love them, and that’s why it’s a motorcycle event that I try to attend every year. I hope to see you when I’m there in 2019!